ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – The people of the Kurdistan Region can count France as a friend, not just the mountains, according to the French Consul General in Erbil.
Dominic Mas, the French Consul in Erbil, speaking to Kurdistan 24 on Tuesday said that the flight ban on the Kurdistan Region was not only damaging the Kurdish and Iraqi economies but also has adverse effects on foreigners, including the French diplomatic mission in the Region.
“The airport ban has not only created issues for the people of the Kurdistan but also affects us, myself included, and my fellow citizens,” Mas affirmed. “It is very hard to experience this for all of us.”
Mas urged Baghdad and Erbil to address every issue – salaries, the federal budget, border control, and the airport ban – as quickly as possible through constructive dialogue.
He noted that the ban, which is meant to strangle the Kurdistan Region’s economy, also harms Iraq’s economy.
Referring to a recent visit by a Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) delegation headed by Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani, Mas said that French President Emmanuel Macron was supportive of the Kurdish leadership’s efforts.
“The President recognizes the KRG’s efforts, notably in respecting the [Iraqi] Supreme Court’s ruling [on the referendum on independence],” he stated, adding that France viewed it as a “decisive step to enable dialogue” between Baghdad and Erbil.
He also affirmed that Macron thanked the Kurdish Peshmerga and the people of the Kurdistan Region for their efforts in fighting the Islamic State (IS) and hosting a large number of displaced people.
“Kurds do not only have the mountains as friends. France is a close friend of the Kurds,” Mas noted. “France believes in a united, democratic federal Iraq with an inclusive government, in Iraq, and in the Kurdistan Region,” the French diplomat told Kurdistan 24.
Mas assured the people of the Region they are not alone. “They have us and many others on their side,” he said, but cautioned the people of Kurdistan have to be “united among themselves.”
Editing by Nadia Riva
(Goran Shakhawan conducted the interview)